Korean TOPIK exam prep III – 다가 Past Tense that shows one action cutting across the other.


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안녕하세요 여러분!  오널의 강에서 “다가”예법을 배우십시다!

Hello everyone!  In today’s lesson let’s learn the ‘daga’ form.

In previous lessons we have discussed the past tense ending of 았/었어요 however for the TOPIK you will be required to know a further form of the past tense which roughly corresponds to the ‘imperfect tense’ meaning of ‘was doing’.  It is frequently followed by the regular past tense as a result.

e.g. 침대에서 자다가 갑가지 일어났어요. – I was sleeping in bed (when/then) suddenly (I) woke up.

We can see that the first sentence, albeit in the past tense, was interrupted or broken up by the second action.

Form: On verbs/adjectives = Take away the -다 ending and add -다가.  (Or I suppose just add -가 to the infinitive?!)


  • 이 책을 읽다가 제 형이 칩에 돌아왔어요. – I was reading this book when my older brother came back home.
  • 텔레비전을 보다가 사라씨 전화했어요. – She was watching TV when Sara phoned.
  • 식당에서 맥주를 없다가 목이 말랐어요. – There was no beer at the restaurant when I was thirsty.

As we can see, the two sentences are linked although the second isn’t a result of the first, it tends to interrupt it and cut across it somewhat.  If you imagine that the 다가 ending acts as the background story and the second sentence ending 았/었어요 then happens and almost takes over.

Try these for yourself: (Answers right at bottom of the page…)

  1. 가다 > 가다가 = was going
  2. 운동하다 (to exercise)
  3. 연습하다 (to practise)
  4. 치다 (to hit/beat/play)
  5. 크다 (to be big)
  6. 작다 (to be small)
  7. 싸다 (to be inexpensive/cheap)

And here are the answers from lesson II: (Remember, ‘I’ could be ‘you/he/we’ etc.)

Answers to 으니까

1) 냉장고 (fridge) 냉장고니까 (Because/as/since it’s a fridge)

2) 병 (bottle) 병이니까 (B’cos it’s a bottle)

3) 오다 (to come) 오니까 (B’cos I come)

4) 자리 (seat) 자리니까 (B’cos it’s a seat)

5) 읽다 (to read) 읽으니까 (B’cos I am reading)

6) 구경하다 (to sight-see/look around) 구경하니까 (B’cos I’m looking around)

7) 여행하다 (to travel) 여행하니까 (B’cos I’m travelling)

Answers to 을테니까

1) 말하다 = 말할테니까 (Because/since/as I will speak/say)

2) 배우다 (to learn) = 배울테니까 (B’cos I will learn)

3) 가르치다 (to teach) = 가르칠테니까 (B’cos I will teach)

4) 버리다 (to throw away / dump / do completely) = 버릴테니까 (Because I will dump)

5) 노래하다 (to sing) = 노래할테니까 (Because I will sing)

6) 마시다 (to drink) = 마실테니까 (Because I will drink)

7) 축하하다 (to celebrate) = 축하할테니까 (Because I will celebrate)

Answers to 다가

  1. 가다 > 가다가 = I/you/he/we etc. was/were going
  2. 운동하다 (to exercise) 운동하다가 = I was exercising
  3. 연습하다 (to practise) 연습하다가 = I was practising
  4. 치다 (to hit/beat/play) 치다가 = I was playing
  5. 크다 (to be big) 크다가 = It was big
  6. 작다 (to be small) 작다가 = It was small
  7. 싸다 (to be inexpensive/cheap) 싸다가 = It was inexpensive

잘 했어요?  대박!

Did you do well?  Well done!


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